Yesterday, a faithful reader suggested that I tell a story about Sam that makes me smile. The thing about Sam, he made you smile. A lot.
So, here are two stories about Sam that still make me smile.
Years ago, we gave Sam and Ben a trip as their “big” Christmas gift. The trip included going to Springfield, Massachusetts to see Jesus Christ Superstar performed by an off-Broadway troupe. Sam loved JCS. He listened to it year-round, as loud as it would go, singing along. We would stay in a hotel overnight there, then go to Boston, stay overnight, and go see the Red Sox at Fenway. The Red Sox are a big deal in our house, and this was the first time they would see them play at home. So this was the ultimate gift.
Suddenly, it’s the day before we’re supposed to leave, and the Sox tickets still haven’t arrived. The third-party seller wouldn’t respond to inquiries, and the website went black. We headed to Massachusetts, holding onto the idea that it would all work out, and when we got to Springfield, went for a swim in the hotel pool, then I went back to the room to try to figure out the Sox tickets. Lots of phone calls, finally I talked to our credit card company and they worked out the whole ticket thing for us.
So we went to the show, more relaxed than we had been, and the show was spectacular. Part way through the show, as Mary Magdalene was singing Everything’s Alright, Sam leaned over, and laid his head on my shoulder, and squeezed my arm, whispering, “This is the best night ever.”
We got back to the hotel, tired, but Ben needed to release some more physical energy, so Paul took them back to the pool while I went back to the room to make sure that everything truly was all set for the Sox game. Imagine my surprise when suddenly there was the pounding at the door.
I rushed to the door, expecting an emergency, and it was Sam, flushed, wet from the pool, barefoot, and dripping all over the rug. “Sam, what’s the matter?”
He yelled with such joy and force, “Mom! Mom! I just met Judas. I met Judas, Mom, on the elevator! I met Judas! And he says if I come right down to the lobby with the program, he’ll autograph it for me.” And off he ran with the program — and we have it still, kept safe in his treasure box for all time. His joy about meeting Judas still makes me smile.
The next day, we drove into Boston, and checked into our hotel. We wandered the city, then walked to Fenway. Sitting just past Pesky’s Pole, we basked in the sunshine. All of a sudden, Sam says in absolute wonder, “Hey, guys, that guy looks just like Curt Schilling.”
His little brother looked at him, looked at the guy coming out of the bull pen, and cracked up in gales of laughter, almost choking on his mouthful of hot dog, and shouted, “Sam, dude, who is pitching today?”
Sam’s eyes widened, and he whacked Paul’s shoulder, “Dad, Dad, that’s Curt Schilling!”
Every time Schilling took the mound after that day, someone in the house would yell, “Hey, Sam, doesn’t that guy look just like Curt Schilling?”
The second funny incident occurred a few weeks before Sam’s graduation from high school. I was at work, doing the normal work stuff, and my assistant said that I had a call. She said it was the principal of Otter Valley, Jim, but that he said it wasn’t an emergency, he just needed to talk to me.
So I got on the phone. And he calmly said, “Kris, do you guys have a sheep?”
What a strange question! “Yes.”
“Does he like Hendrix?”
I certainly hadn’t heard him correctly. “What?”
“Does your sheep like Jimi Hendrix?”
“Jim, what the hell are you talking about?”
Now I could hear his suppressed laughter, “I think your sheep is outside the school, belted in the backseat of a Honda Civic, with Hendrix blasting. He’s with Sam and the boys, and they are here to pick someone up.”
I started to laugh, and even now, thinking back to the conversation, I laugh. “Seriously?”
So I called Sam’s cell phone, and when he came on, Hendrix was blasting. “Sam. Do you have Ferdie with you?” Ferdie (Ferdinand) was the name of our ram.
“Hi, Mom.” There was a chorus of “Hi, Moms” in the background and a bleating of a sheep. “Yeah, he’s right here.”
Sigh. “Sam, why is Ferdie at Otter Valley?”
His voice was patient, “Mom, he was bored. We went to the house to play basketball. ” Okay, he would have been skipping class to do that, mental note to chew him out about that later, “And we let him out to play with us, and he seemed bored, so we took him for a ride.”
The funny thing was that it actually sounded pretty reasonable when explained that way. Wait, no, think about it. I swallowed and took a deep breath, “So, Sam, here’s the deal. Turn down the music, get out of Otter Valley’s circle, and take the sheep home. Got it?”
“Got it. Love you, Mom.”
That was Sam, through and through. Every experience was the best, every moment had the potential for wonder and joy, and if the sheep seemed bored, why not take him for a ride in a Honda Civic?